Washington's Corcoran museum seeks lifeline, sale an option

Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:32pm EDT
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By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Corcoran Gallery, Washington's oldest art museum, would seem to have an unbeatable combination with its top collection, a landmark building and tourist-friendly site near the White House.

But behind its Beaux Arts facade, which houses works from a 17,000-piece collection that include artists Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Eugene Delacroix, Claude Monet and Willem de Kooning, the Corcoran's board of trustees is looking for a lifeline after years of losing money.

Sale of the building, links to another institution or a move from the city are being weighed as ways to save the museum.

The Corcoran, which is a nonprofit institution, said this month it was in talks with the federal National Gallery of Art and George Washington University about "sustainable options" for the museum and its 550-student Corcoran College of Art and Design.

The Corcoran, the biggest private museum in the U.S. capital, "is one of the premier landmark pieces of history in the city and it has to be preserved," President Fred Bollerer told Reuters.

He said the museum was also talking with other institutions but declined to name them. It hopes to decide on its future by the first half of next year, Bollerer added.

The museum hired real estate firm CBRE Group Inc as its adviser in September.